In all honesty, I never thought it would be so easy & satisfying to make fresh apple juice at home. Somehow we’ve all seemed to come to accept today’s easy commercial apple juice as the norm and we sure love to drink it around here, but it was a great surprise to find I could make my very own natural kind at home, with no added sugar or preservatives! Gave me a great sense of what to search for when trying those all-natural labelled commercial kinds.
The fruit juice is made by the maceration and pressing of the apples, a process in itself. And for someone who does not have a handy juicer as part of her kitchen entourage, I found myself ‘a la primitif‘ trying to get the job done. The resulting expelled juice is actually an all-natural fruit nectar, since commercially sold apple juice is further clarified to remove the starch & pectin and then pasteurized for packing. Of course, I didn’t go through with this. What we had is what the world calls apple nectar or cider – not to be confused with the hard cider referred to as fermented juice turn alcoholic beverage. Apple cider is typically opaque due to fine apple particles in suspension and general tangier than conventional filtered apple juice.
Although processed apple juice as we known it is one of the most common fruit juices in the world, with world production led by China, Poland, the U.S.A., and – no surprise here – Germany, this fresh ‘raw’ kind, known as fresh cider to most Americans, is a seasonally produced drink of limited shelf-life that is typically available in autumn, sometimes heated and mulled. Natural raw cider, therefore, is a specialty beverage, produced on-site at orchards and small rural mills in apple growing areas. Even with refrigeration, raw cider will begin to become slightly carbonated within a week or so and eventually become hard cider as the fermentation process continues. Some producers use this fermentation to make hard cider, others carry it to acetification to create artisanal apple cider vinegar. We didn’t make it that far as our liter lasted a whole whopping 2 hours!
For the Apple Juice
- Apples, all you need is apples!
Combine very juicy apples, both sweet & sharp for best results. Wash & remove the stem and blossom ends. Finely chop the fruit in a food processor and add to a pot of warm water. Simmer until soft in low heat, stirring ever so often. Strain well through a jelly bag or colander lined with cloth. Place the juice in the pot again and add a small amount of sugar (to taste, and optional). Stir without simmering only until the sugar is dissolved. Raise the heat to high and cook, stirring frequently, until the juice almost boils. Heat only to 190°F (90°C), as overcooking or boiling deteriorates flavor & nutrients! Strain again into sterilized jars or a sealed container, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. For the clearest juice, refrigerate the strained juice for 24 hours, then pour off the cleared juice, leaving the sediment behind, and strain it again through a damp coffee filter. I didn’t do this, so what you see in the picture is the freshly strained rich nectar. Sounds like hard work, and it’s definitely a process, but oh-so-worth it!!